Customs and Culture

Gyirong is a hub of cultural and economic exchanges. The mixed cultures of Tibet, Central Plain, Nepal and India make up a colorful life and landscape in Gyirong.

Over a thousand years ago, Gyirong had become a crossroad of Tibetan Buddhism because it was an essential passage between the southern part of Tibet and countries such as Nepal and India. As the hub of Tibet Nepal Ancient Road, or the “Godsend Road”, Gyirong was entitled as the “green passage” of the trade between Tibet and Nepal. Goods like Tibetan medicine, fur, cheese, butter, Nepalese brass, wood carving, agate, gem, Buddhist sutra, and the silk, salt, porcelain, paper, ink, cloth from Central Plain could all be found here in Gyirong at that time. It was absolutely the commercial and trade center on the border.

Besides Tibetan, Han and Hui people, another habitant here is the Sherpas, the “Mountain Guide”, who is the strongest, toughest and most legendary people in westerners’ eyes. Moreover, the most mysterious one is the Daman people. In the three Gurkha counter attacks, some Gurkhas were defeated and fled away on the border, while some cavalrymen didn’t return to Nepal and chose to stay on the Tibet-Nepal border, who are now the Daman (means “cavalryman” in Tibetan) people in Gyirong. As time passed by, Daman people gradually live together with the Tibetan, Han, Hui people and some Sherpas in a harmonious way. Most of them have got Chinese nationalities and become legal Chinese citizens.

Because of the multiple races, a rich variety of cultures coexist in Gyirong. The architectures, dances and clothes in Gyirong all feature a mixed style from India, Nepal and other places, which display a taste of exotic.

Tong-jia Dance: Dances in Gyirong are very unique and original. It is said that when King Songtsan married Nepali Princess Bhrikuti Devi, the groom's and bride’s processions lighted bonfires in Gyirong and danced Tong-jia to celebrate the union of two tribes. The name of the dance was named after the “tong-jia, tong-jia” sound of the collision between the dancer’s silver bracelet on the left hand and the conch bracelet on the right hand. The dance was popular with local residents due to its graceful style and light music. Lots of historical sites have proven that dances in Gyirong took shape in Tang and Song Dynasties and Tong-jia was also born in that period which already enjoys a history of over one thousand years.

Gyirong Tibetan Machete: Much like a boomerang, the shape of the Gyirong Machete is designed for chopping wood and self-defense. The hilt is covered by cowhide, which makes the machete easy and comfortable to hold. The blade is made of tough and shiny steel, and the sheath is wrapped with solid wood and black cowhide, on the top of which is decorated with a brass cone showing both primitive and modern features. The machete is 36 cm long and has a distinctive shape which is well worth appreciating and collecting.

Gyirong Tibetan Wood Bowl: The wood bowl is mainly produced in forest areas such as Gyirong, and appeals to all tribes in Shigatse. The workshops that inherit a tradition of hundreds of years still remain in Gyirong today. Made of birches in local forests, the bowl enjoys a great quality and is very smooth, exquisite, and portable. It can prevent mouth burn and taste changes as well. The bowl is carefully carved by hand and the size is as the same as the normal porcelain bowl. On the surface the wood texture is highlighted. Together with a silver lid or silver covers on the rim and the bottom, the Tibetan wood bowl looks more elegant and luxurious. Using the bowl to carry food can also get rid of bad breath.

Gyirong Wine Pot: The simple and classic wine pot is made of brass and precious wood. It is not only beautifully designed but also very durable: the wood can prevent bad odours from getting inside the pot, and the brass structure avoids wine leakage. On the brass shell some auspicious patterns are carved which looks both traditional and graceful. The size of the pot varies and you can choose whatever size you want. Remarkably, the lid and the pot is linked by a brass chain to protect the lid from falling. Because Gyirong and Nepal are adjacent, the pot is also called Nepali Wine Pot.

The thangka and knitting in Gyirong also have unique characteristics.

In general, Gyirong is a very accessible and attractive border town. The residents still keep a traditional life style. Settled by the mountains, they live on the spring water from the snow and the food in the forests. People work from dawn to dusk in the ancient jungles and are pleased with the easy and peaceful life. In Gyirong, all you can find is a simple folkway and a wonderful culture.